A celebrated Australia vs India Test series was dominated by new faces taking the international stage by storm. India fielded four debutants in the Test series – Washington Sundar, Shubman Gill, T Natarajan and Mohammed Siraj, while the Aussies handed their baggy green to two talented individuals in Cameron Green and Will Pucovski.
Here’s our report card of how the Indian newbies coped up with the pressures of playing cricket at the highest level.
WASHINGTON SUNDAR – 8/10
There were several moments to savour from the Gabba Test but none were more outstanding than 21-year old Washington Sundar hooking the world number one Test bowler, Pat Cummins for a six over fine leg to set up a chase of 328. Washington looked like he belonged at the Test level and the conditions didn’t seem alien to him. He was named in the squad as a net bowler at the beginning of the Test series and was kept back after the limited-overs leg to replicate the impact Nathan Lyon can have in the nets to the Indian batters.
He was picked late in the squad for the fourth Test because of the all-round abilities he brings to the field as a replacement of Ravindra Jadeja. He started the match on a promising note and showed remarkable control with the ball in the first innings. His first wicket in Test cricket was a special one as he managed to get the better of Steve Smith. With the bat, he looked like a proper top-order batsman and the boy from Tamil Nadu finished as the second-highest run-getter in India’s first innings with a well crafted 62. His partnership with Rishabh Pant in the second innings was a match-winning one as India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 1-2.
SHUBMAN GILL – 8/10
It was a much-anticipated Test debut for Shubman Gill and it was coming his way since some time now. He proved why there was so much hype about the opening batsman as he finished the series as the highest-scoring opener in the series. Shubman managed to score 259 runs in his six innings which included a couple of half-centuries.
He deserved a hundred at the Gabba but unfortunately perished for a brilliant 91. He averaged 51.80 during a series where run making wasn’t that easy especially against the new ball. Some of the shots he played in his six innings were a delight to watch and brought a massive smile on the faces of the Indian fans. He looked unfazed against a top Australian bowling line up and took on the short ball with gusto. It was a dream introduction to Test match cricket for Shubman Gill.
T NATARAJAN – 7/10
Another fairytale story which came to an appropriate conclusion as Ajinkya Rahane handed the Border-Gavaskar trophy to T Natarajan to lead the celebrations. Nobody, even Natarajan, didn’t expect that he would get his Test cap in this series but that’s how life works sometimes. He got his debut in the fourth Test at the Gabba to replace an injured Jasprit Bumrah and Natarajan would have made Bumrah proud with the way he bowled in the first innings.
He showed exemplary control with the new ball and kept things tight from one end consistently. He got the important wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade in the first innings and helped India restrict the Aussies to a modest total of 369 in their first innings. He went wicketless in the second innings but was the pick of the bowlers in the first one. He also provided some moments of entertainment with the bat as he survived 9 balls and managed to get his first run in ten First-Class innings.
MOHAMMED SIRAJ – 9/10
Easily the most standout debutant of the series was Mohammed Siraj. ‘Miya Bhai’ as his teammates fondly call him was a star when it came to his performances, his on-field behaviour as well as how he handled a personal tragedy at the beginning of the tour. Siraj lost his father soon after the team landed in India and the fast bowler had to miss his dad’s funeral because going back to India would have meant that his debut in the Test series would have been delayed because of quarantine rules in Australia.
He was seen getting emotional at the national anthem in Sydney as well when he got his five-wicket haul in Brisbane and was handed the ball over to wave to the crowd. Siraj had plenty of useful experience in First-Class as well as India A cricket behind him before he made his debut in the series. That experience came in handy as ‘Miya Bhai’ finished as the highest wicket-taker for India in his debut series, a feat not many Indian bowlers can boast about of.
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